Search This Blog

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Spirit

Since it's Christmas Eve, I feel compelled to talk about Christmas spirit. I hope during this holiday season everyone is able to find theirs.

This year I feel more holiday spirit than ever before. This sounds amazing since I live in Wilmington, Ohio the small town that has been featured again and again on the news recently. This is the town that DHL decimated. Even though I know that more than half of the households in Wilmington have at least one person without a job, the people here have hope. This brings me great joy. My father is out of work, my husband is currently laid-off, my brother and his wife have seen their income slashed in half while adding three babies to the mix but we are all still happy and healthy. We are all doing what we can to make ends meet. We are slashing our costs. We spent a lot less on Christmas and we are all going to spend the holiday together. This year could not be more joyful than that. We have these three baby girls to spend Christmas with this year. They are all healthy and strong. We have my seven year old daughter who is so incredibly excited about Christmas that she can barely stand it. I love this holiday!

I have focused so much less on buying material things this year and instead have handmade many of my gifts. I have put my love and joy into the gifts that I am giving this year. Instead of worrying about everyone having enough presents on Christmas and making sure I don't spend more on one person than another, I haven't worried about it at all. And I could care less if I get a single present. The best present for me this year is my family and the joy that we can share.

I know this post might be a little over the top cheesy. I can't help it. When you have seen nothing but depressing news about your hometown for over a year, you would be over the top cheesy too if you find reasons to celebrate. Even with our tight times, I know that I am truly blessed and I am better off than so many people around the country this year. If you are one of those suffering, you are in my family's thoughts and prayers. For the rest of us, please count your blessings and take time to relish them this holiday season.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday and a joyous new year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What I Believe...

I decided to compile a list of things I believe are essential to living a happier healthier life.

· Living with a positive mindset can take you anywhere.
· As I state in the “About Me” section of this blog, I believe wellness is a state of physical, mental, emotional, financial and spiritual well-being. I believe in taking a holistic approach to your health.
· Negativity is contagious and can suck you dry and can ruin your ambition.
· Positive energy is also contagious, but can fill you with joy.
· Giving back to your community gives you more than you can ever possibly give. I truly believe that my life is better when I am serving others.
· You must have faith in your own abilities and follow your passion.
· Exercise helps me think clearer and is an amazing mood lifter.
· Age is just a number. You are only as old as you allow yourself to feel. .
· No one can MAKE you feel a certain way. You can only feel a certain way about someone’s actions. You choose how to react.
· Everyone has the right to a bad day on occasion.
· Dave Ramsey’s book Total Money Makeover may have saved my marriage.
· That financial disagreements can tear a family apart.
· Communication is key to any relationship, but must be based on honesty.
· You can boost someone up without knocking them down.
· We must learn to not only forgive others, but learn to forgive ourselves.
· We all have to learn how to deal with stress (good and bad stress) in more effective ways.
· Pharmaceutical drugs and surgery are not always the answer.
· Living on less and having less stuff is better for the spirit.
· Natural and preventive treatments are underutilized. I can’t even find the words to stress how important these are to a better healthcare system and overall well-being, longevity and quality of years.

This list could have been twice as long, but the bottom line is that we have power over our behavior, actions, reactions, beliefs and feelings. We may not be able to control the actions of others, but our lives do not have to be defined by them. Live true to yourself and pay your good fortunes forward and you will live positively well.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Age is Just a Number

I just received a book (from Amazon) that I have been very excited about reading! It's the Dara Torres book Age is Just a Number. She has become such an inspiration for me especially since I am in my mid-thirties. I am thrilled to see that you don't have to lose that competitive edge after a certain age. I grew up watching men and women give up being active when they turned 30. I do not want that for myself or my child. I have had this mental block for so long that age IS a number. Dara talks about feeling old at different ages and I completely understood what she meant. I felt old when I met my husband at 25 and had a child at 29. I felt old when I finally got my bachelor's degree at 31. I felt old at 32 when I started graduate school. And every time I train for something like a race or the attempted figure competition two years ago, I felt old.

Even though I have sometimes put up a mental block about age, I have never had a problem hitting the gym 5-6 days a week and pounding out a few miles on the road or lifting weights like a teenager. Now, my joints often ache, I have injured both of my shoulders and my back will sometimes give out. Ha. I know...I really do sound old. The truth is I have just learned to work around these issues and have found different forms of exercise to take over for the old ones. Age is not an excuse for letting yourself down.

Whenever we begin doubting our own abilities, we begin to feel even older. You have to realize that although your body may have certain limitations, you cannot give up. When I was younger, I kept thinking that I would just have to stop being active at some point other than taking walks or swimming. Then I ran a trail run with an 84 year old man. I decided to keep pace with him and I am so glad that I did. He was agile both mentally and physically and I was not slowing down to keep pace with him -believe me. This was a run that I had put together and a not a race so we were able to keep a leisurely pace and talk. Otherwise, he would have left me in the dust. He told me that he had cancer when he was in his sixties and the doctor told him he had about six months to live. He was a smoker and completely inactive at the time. He quite smoking immediately, became a vegan and a runner - in his sixties - WITH CANCER! Obviously he did not die after six months or even after six years. Here he was at 84 running with me. He told me of how he had run over 20 marathons and he planned to continue running in them. I was mesmerized by his story and I realized that age really is just a number. The age limitation is all in your head. I am not saying that you are going to live forever - you are not. That's why it is even more important that we pursue our goals no matter our age. You may not be able to do everything physically that you long to do if you have certain injuries or health issues so find another goal. Don't stop dreaming about all the wonderful and powerful things your body can do.

The next time you think you might want to try something new and then stop yourself because you think you might be too old - stop it! Think again. Think of the young 84 year old man I ran with or think of Dara Torres and Brett Favre who by conventional standards should have retired many years ago from their sports, but still believe in their abilities and push on. I often think about my many friends who are over the age of 50 who have all picked up running and other sports later in life. My other co-worker friend in her late forties went on an eight day excursion on the Appalachian trail with other women where they carried 50 pound backpacks and roughed it. I am sure it was tough, but they did it. None of these people have let age define them. Don't you let it define you either. Age is JUST a number.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

So, I have been eating a lot better lately. I haven't been doing this because I really cared if I lost weight or not. I just started eating differently because my stomach was not allowing me to take in certain things without rebelling. I started paying more attention to the cues my body would send and I have been not only feeling better, but my pants are fitting better too. It's great! I am not hungry because I haven't been trying not to eat. I eat three small meals and two or three snacks a day and it is working tremendously well.

If you are wondering what is in my egg mixture, it's carrots and chicken. I need a little more protein in the a.m. to keep me satiated. This really works for me. I am not saying this will work perfectly for everyone. It works for me. The grain is quinoa. I am finding that my beloved oatmeal may not be the best grain for me to ingest in the morning. I am still playing around with it.

This is a protein packed breakfast and it keeps me fueled until my next meal. I always have another carbohyrdrate rich meal before my workouts at lunch.

It really helps to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If your stomach doesn't respond well to certain foods, try eliminating them. Don't stop eating foods for dieting purposes. In my opinion, it only makes me want them more. If I slowly eliminate something because it makes me feel bad, it's easier to get rid of it for good. Listen to your body. It is probably telling you what it wants right now. Stop ignoring the cues.

Lose the weight!

I have always heard these strange tales of women who lost weight when they quit worrying about it so much. How could you not worry about having gained 15-20 pounds or more? I certainly worried this past year when my pants got tighter and tighter. In fact, I got a nice little wake up call in the form of a video for the Leadership Institute I graduated from. They had done an alumni video featuring a handful of us and I was one of the lucky ones. I saw the video a couple of months ago and about fell out of my chair. I couldn't believe how puffy my stomach looked and I don't want to tell you how big my rearend looked. I realized that the stress of graduate school and premature triplet nieces had really gotten to my wasitline over the past year!

I knew by the video that I had gained more than I had expected, but I decided it really wasn't necessary to worry about it. I just needed to get back to working out and eating better and that is exactly what I did. I didn't really expect to see any difference and I didn't weigh myself. I decided to let it go and see what happened. Well, my pants now fit again and I stepped on the scale for the first time the other day only to find that I was about 10 pounds lighter than I had thought I would be. I still had in my head that I would be at my higher weight. It still hadn't registered that my pants were fitting better because I had lost about 10 pounds. Shocking.

So there it is. The strange and mystical tales of women who had lost weight even though they weren't weighing themselves incessantly and carefully recording every morsel that went into their mouth is true.

Due to all of the crash diets of the past 40 years, our society has come to hold the belief that you cannot lose weight without severly restricting calories and exercising like a mad fiend. I have always known that the more I deprive myself of the foods that I love, the more that I want them. When I decided to just eat them when I felt like it, I didn't crave them as much anymore. It's also interesting to see how much less our bodies demand or crave when we feed it properly. A doctor of natural medicine told me that we crave salt when our bodies need vegetables and we crave sugar when our bodies need fruit. Instead of waiting until we crave these things, feed your body on a regular basis. You will cut your cravings and keep hunger at bay.

I want to also reiterate yesterday's post about listening to our bodies. One of the reasons I have lost some weight is because I started feeding it properly. I have been eating more vegetables, fruit and protein. I have been eating less grains because I believe gluten may have a negative impact on my stomach. Dairy is also a source of serious discomfort, but I am working on that.

Listen to your body and stop obsessing over every morsel that enters your mouth. Enjoy the foods that you love even if they are considered "bad" foods just eat them in moderation. If you are feeling full after every single meal, then you need to assess how much you are eating and eat a little less. Stop eating when you feel satiated and do not go too long in between meals. Let's see how much weight you lose when you stop dieting.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

2009 Turkey Trot Results

Here are the final results for the 2009 Turkey Trot. More runners/walkers crossed the finish line than what we have listed here, but many of our runners didn't take cards as they finished or didn't complete them (that's why there are a lot of blanks) as they crossed the finish line. Let's make sure we fill cards out in 2010 so we have everyone listed!!! Thanks and congratulations!!!!

1st 20:22 Tyler Bick
2nd 21:00 Anthony Watson
3rd 21:06 Sam Newman
4th 21:17 Kathleen McKee
5th 21:25 Ron Combs
6 21:32 Nathan Tipton
7 21:33 Spencer Meredith
8 21:35 Tony Butcher
9 21:45 Brad Heys
10 21:55 Anthony Marino
11 22:16 Jason Besser
12 22:25 Eric Guindon
13 22:48 Nolan Mann
14 22:55 Michael Walls
15 22:59 Michael Graham
16 23:25 Shadrach Dvorak
17 23:37 Bruce Davis
18 23:43 Todd Shelley
19 23:52 Tim Robinson
20 24:08 Nathan Giacobbi
21 24:18 Jake Burnham
22 24:19 Tracy Ames
23 24:22 Walt Peters
24 24:34 Steve Burnham
25 24:45 Gene Black
26 24:51 Travis Brausch
27 24:55 Steve Jones
28 24:58 Sarah Newman
29 25:03 David McCord
30 25:04 Bayle Wolf
31 25:08 Curtis Angst
32 25:20 Tom Brausch
33 25:34 Emma Heys
34 25:35
35 25:49 Sharon Bick
36 25:52
37 25:54 Kent Vandervort
38 25:56 Alex Burnham
39 26:06 Davis Mann
40 26:14 Nolland Hanke?
41 26:18 Emily Graham
42 26:23 Nick Butcher
43 26:28 Justin Esslinger
44 26:30 Sam Burnham
45 26:30 Chayse Wolf
46 26:32 Sam Venable
47 26:36 Jason Potts
48 26:48 Todd Schultz
49 26:48 Suzanne Shultz
50 26:50 Jody Ames
51 27:07 Connie Potts
52 27:08 Alicia Shope
53 27:09 Rachel Mann
54 27:14 Mark Rembert
55 27:16 Woody Cornette, II
56 27:23 Dylan Combs
57 27:23 Marta Wilkinson
58 27:35 Chris Stromberg
59 27:37 Travis Wolf
60 27:45 Bryan Hoggatt
61 27:50 Dave Miller
62 27:52 Taylor Alexander
63 27:52 Lindsey Cox
64 27:53 Eli Cox
65 27:54 Allison White
66 27:59 Joe Alexander
67 28:03 Miguela Santoro
68 28:04 Lauren Ames
69 28:15 Heather Vilvens
70 28:25 Bob Schaad
71 28:38 Heidi Cox
72 28:50 Ed Blohm
73 29:00 Chris Lemmel
74 29:05 Jeff Hibbs
75 29:17 Scott Henman
76 29:17 Brittany Santoro
77 29:33 Linda Graham
78 29:38 Steve Venable
79 29:38 Kevin Hoggatt
80 29:40 Sinamon Curliss
81 29:45 Rick Marino
82 29:55
83 30:04
84 30:24
85 30:25 Rachel Schnell
86 30:40 Bethany Venable
87 30:52
88 30:55 Brandon Hoggatt
89 30:57 Molly McDermott
90 30:59 Ella Young
91 31:05 Hazel Young
92 31:05 Amy Boeckmann
93 31:10 Marvin Larrick
94 31:10 Jim Venable
95 31:15 Katie Venable
96 31:19 Desirae Jones
97 31:19 Jonathan Callewaert
98 31:22 Taylor Gauche
99 31:35 Jamie Bacon
100 31:46 Katie Mcfarlane
101 31:46 David McFarlane
102 31:50 Rich Garnai
103 31:53 Galen Tipton
104 31:53 Mike Bick
105 31:58 Jessica Johnson
106 32:00 Steve McKay
107 32:00
108 32:00 Daniel Rogers
109 32:09
110 32:14 Natalie Harmeling
111 32:16
112 32:22 Mike Newman
113 32:49
114 33:02
115 33:02 Jill Wilson
116 33:19 Jan Blohm
117 33:27 Marc Wilson
118 33:43 Chad Wilson
119 33:43
120 34:39
121 34:39
122 34:59 Patrick Blouin
123 35:00 Ashley Blouin
124 35:09
125 35:20 Janielle Runyon
126 35:20
127 35:44
128 36:05
129 36:11 Mike McKee
130 36:52
131 37:06 Jessica McVey
132 37:40 Sarah Clark
133 37:46 Joy Carpenter
134 38:31 Dennis Mann
135 39:35 Jack Frye
136 39:35 Jaycob Wolf
137 39:38
138 40:04
139 40:27
140 40:29 Rusty Young
141 41:00 Bill Snowball
142 41:08
143 41:12 Mallory Stanton
144 41:16 Meghan Kolmer
145 41:24 Annen Stuckert
146 41:43
147 41:43
148 42:48 Keri Douglas
149 42:57 Karl Baessler
150 42:57 Diana Sue Cornette
151 43:00
152 43:12
153 43:25
154 43:59
155 44:24
156 44:36 Jennifer Callewaert
157 44:36
158 45:06
159 45:06 Margo Khalili
160 45:16 Kristina Khalili
161 45:16
162 46:03
163 46:05
164 46:13
165 46:28 Dawn Miller
166 46:29
167 47:29
168 47:40 Kyerston Miller
169 47:41 Adriana Farrell
170 48:42 Mary Daugherty
171 48:40 Emily Stephens
172 49:00 Matthew Zimmerman
173 49:07
174 49:18
175 49:20 Angie Davidson
176 49:20
177 49:31 Ann Venable
178 49:32 Jim Alcorn
179 52:47 Kynda Strider
180 52:47 Joe Callewaert
181 54:52 Amy Snowball
182 55:00 William Snowball
183 55:21 Mike Snowball
184 55:33 Michelle Dunn
185 55:48 Lauren Heard
186 57:00

10K Results

1st 41:57 Tyler Bick
2nd 48:02 Bruce Davis
3rd 49:13 Nathan Giacobbi
4th 50:20 Walt Peters
5th 55:33 Chris Lemmel
6th 55:48 Sharon Bick
7th and 8th Lora Abernathy and Shelly Aills
Our apologies to Shelly Aills and Lora Abernathy whose times were not recorded.

2009 Turkey Trot

What a great day for the 4th Annual Turkey Trot. We had a great turnout and a sunny day. Here are some pictures of our fun day.

The starting line...

Photos of first place male and female - Tyler Bick and Kathleen McKee

Tyler and Kathleen receiving their medals.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2009 Wilmington Turkey Trot is a Huge Success!

The Fourth Annual Friends of the Wilmington Parks Turkey Trot was held on November 26th (aka Thanksgiving Day). It was a chilly morning, but the sun was shining on the 194 runners and walkers that participated in this year’s event. We are very fortunate that so many people chose to get up early on their holiday to brave the chilly morning air to share their Thanksgiving with us. Thank you for coming out to support the parks and trails. We hope all of our participants had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Congratulations to all of our winners AND to everyone that participated and completed the course.

The results are as follows:
Overall Winners:
Females: 1st Place – Kathleen McKee 21:17, 2nd Place – Sarah Newman 24:58
Males: 1st Place – Tyler Bick 20:22, 2nd Place – Anthony Watson 21:00

Overall 10K Winners:
1st Place Male – Tyler Bick 41:57, 1st Place Female – Sharon Bick 55:48

Age Group Categories:
12 & Under
Females: 1st Place – Miquela Santoro 28:03, 2nd Place - Lauren Ames 28:04
Males: 1st Place – Alex Burnham 25:56, 2nd Place – Sam Burnham 26:30

13-19 years
Females: 1st Place – Emma Heys 25:34, 2nd Place - Rachel Mann 27:09
Males: 1st Place – Tyler Bick 20:22, 2nd Place - Nathan Tipton 21:32

20-29 years
Females: 1st Place – Kathleen McKee 21:17, 2nd Place - Sarah Newman 24:58
Males: 1st Place – Sam Newman 21:06, 2nd Place - Anthony Martino 21:55

30-39 years
Females: 1st Place – Tracy Ames 24:19, 2nd Place – Suzanne Shultz 26:48
Males: 1st Place – Anthony Watson 21:00, 2nd Place – Ron Combs 21:25

40-49 years
Females: 1st Place – Sharon Bick 25:49, 2nd Place – Cindy Santoro 29:17
Males: 1st Place – Tony Butcher 21:35, 2nd Place – Jason Besser 22:16

50-59 years
Females: 1st Place – Diane Hein 25:35, 2nd Place – Jane Newman 25:52
Males: 1st Place Michael Walls 22:55, 2nd Place – Steve Jones 24:55

60 & Up
Females: 1st Place – Sue Cornette 43:25
Males: 1st Place – Bruce Davis 24:22, 2nd Place – Gene Black 24:45

***This is the corrected Awards listing. We want to apologize to Bruce Davis and Tracy Ames for missing them on race day! We are correcting our timing issues for future races. We hope to have a timing company next year. Our goal for over the next five years is to grow this event to host at least 500 participants. Tell your friends and families to come out and share the day with us next year.

Become a follower here at Positively Well and at Clinton County Runner’s and get updates about next year’s event.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Skip the Diets This Holiday Season!

I recently wrote an article for a new magazine called Salt. It was titled Preventing Holiday Gains. The article can be found here:

I am thrilled to say that I finally took my own advice over Thanksgiving weekend!!!

I ate what I wanted in moderation, didn't start a diet, ate only the foods that I really love, ate regular meals and snacks and focused more on my family and friends. I didn't get to exercise like I had hoped, but I have been really sick over the holiday weekend and just could not muster up the energy.

I focused my energy more on enjoying myself by doing enjoyable activities rather than eating leftovers and baking new goodies. I did stress myself out a little Thanksgiving morning when I hosted my fourth annual Turkey Trot for the Friends of the Park in Wilmington, Ohio that was bigger than I could have anticipated and I am truly grateful. However, my normal response to stress is eating junk! I didn't do that this year. I still tried to eat normal snacks and meals and now my pants are fitting better. I didn't starve that's for sure.

With confidence, I can now say, "Take my advice!" Let's get through Christmas without obsessing over foods that you can't eat and enjoy everything in moderation. I am hitting the gym again and plan to as much as possible before the Christmas feasts.

Again, I urge you not to go on a "diet" for the holidays. If you want to watch what you eat, go ahead. We should all be more mindful of what you are putting in our bodies, but not just during the holiday season. Also, make sure you eat normal meals and snacks before you go out. Do not go to a holiday party ravenous. You will be more likely to eat everything in sight. If you aren't hungry, the things you would normally induldge in won't seem as exciting. Get your exercise at least 4-5 times each week during the holidays and take care of yourself not for weight loss, but for your health. You will enjoy your holidays more and feel less pressure when presented with a plate full of holiday cookies.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

I don't believe that giving thanks should be kept for one day of the year. I give thanks every single chance I get. It is part of my families nightly ritual when we have dinner together. If we can't have dinner together, we will discuss how fortunate we are at some point. My husband and I continously remind ourselves that we have everything we need.

I see so many people who wallow in the things they don't have and they are miserable for it. I am not rich. In fact, my husband has been laid off twice in the past two years, my parents are both without jobs, my brother was laid off last year after having his triplets who were born prematurely and my little one is sicker than a dog right now. Unfortunate things happen to us all of the time. These things happen to lots of people. I don't sit around and think "oh poor pitiful me" or more bad things would start happening. Why? Because I am looking for them.

Instead of looking for the bad things, look for all of the good things in your life and be thankful. I have an awesome husband and child. I have a good job that pays me decently. I have friends that I adore. I have wonderful co-workers that I also call friends. Those triplet girls have become one of the biggest blessings in our lives and I am thankful every day for our girls. I have a roof over my head and I like my house. I have a strong healthy body and we are doing just fine. Life is great and I am thankful for every moment I have on this earth - good or bad.

Make an effort to say thanks not just once this year, but again and again. You will be happier for it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Friends of the Park Turkey Trot is Almost Here!

The 4th Annual Friends of the Wilmington Parks Turkey Trot is only three days away now. There are about 130 runners/walkers pre-registered for this event.

Races begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day! Registration begins at 8 at the Clinton County YMCA. Runners meeting will begin at approximately 8:45.

We will have free babysitting inside the Clinton County YMCA while parents and older children run/walk the race. We aren't just talking about your babies "sitting" either. Children's activities will begin at 8:30 on the Wilmington College track. There will be a 50 yard dash, 1/4 mile sprint and 1/2 mile run. All children are encouraged to participate. There will all kinds of fun activities inside the YMCA's gym. They will play games like floor hockey, basketball and tag for older kids on one side of the gym. On the other side, we will be playing duck-duck-turkey, crafts and other fun games. All kid activities are free of charge. We want the entire family to come and have a good time for little money.

This is a small organization so please notify us if you will be coming and want a t-shirt on race day. We don't guarantee you will get a shirt on race day if you don't let us know you want one. We try to have them, but we don't want to waste money. Help us save some green by registering ahead.

Contact Heather Harmon at 937-218-0018 for registration and event details.

Hope to see you on Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wilmington, Ohio's Turkey Trot 5k Race and Children's Events

Don’t drive out of town to run a race this year on Thanksgiving Day. Stay in Wilmington, Ohio and support local businesses and Wilmington’s parks and trails by running in the 4th annual Turkey Trot 5k race! This event is hosted by the Friends of the Wilmington Parks.
There will be lots of activities for children and families. Close to 200 runners/walkers participated in last year’s event. Let’s make this year’s event even bigger. Adults and older children can run/walk while little ones stay behind and chase the giant turkey and play games in the warm YMCA gym with adult supervision.
Pre-register by November 19 to be sure you are guaranteed a t-shirt. T-shirts ARE NOT guaranteed on race day!! We keep our costs low by not wasting money. We need to know approximately how many people will show up so let us know! You can contact me, Heather Harmon, at with questions or to pre-register.
All of the supplies for this race are bought locally supporting Wilmington area businesses.
Schedule of events:
8:00 a.m.
– Registration will begin at the Clinton County YMCA on Elm Street.
8:30a.m. - Children’s events will begin and will continue throughout the race. Sign your little one up for the Turkey Chase for children 6 and under, ¼ mile sprint, Turkey Tag and other fun games. Kids will then be taken into the warm YMCA gym to play games with adults while parents run the 5K race. All of the children’s events are free of charge!
9:00a.m. - The race will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 26, 2009 (Thanksgiving Day).
10:00-10:30 – Medals will be awarded to the top two runners of each male/female age group.

Adults -
$17 to pre-registered adults and $20 after Nov 19.
Students - $15 to pre-registered students and $18 after Nov 19.
Children – all kids events and activities are FREE of charge so bring the little ones. Prizes will be awarded to all children!

Volunteers needed! Can’t run this year? Then why not volunteer and cheer your loved ones on. Volunteers have just as much fun as the participants. Help us out by contacting Heather Harmon for more information on volunteering.

To register, go to this link at to register Register by November 19th to guarantee a t-shirt! Contact Heather Harmon at 937-218-0018 or at

Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween by the Dollar Tree?

Many of us are living on a shoestring budget this year and the idea of decorating for Halloween seemed to be out of reach. I love decorating for this particular holiday so I had to find a way to do it with very little money. My research led me to an unlikely website, the Dollar Store Crafts blog ( I got a few ideas and headed to the Dollar Tree.

I found most of my Halloween decorations at the Dollar Tree. I know you are probably picturing some of the tacky and cheap items that can often be found at dollars stores. You need to keep an open mind when shopping for decorations at the dollar stores. Some of the most hideous items can be turned into tasteful pieces with scissors, paint, glue, glitter or ribbon.

For example, you can purchase simple glass cylinder candles for a dollar each and decorate them by tying ribbon, twine, wire or anything else you can think of at the top. Hang beads, letters, skeleton hands, skulls, and bones from the twine or wire. Decorate the outside of the candle with stickers, painted letters or stenciled pictures. River rock can be used in centerpieces on plates with the candles and other fun pieces.

For my Halloween centerpiece, I used three glass cylinder candles with orange and black ribbon tied around the top of the glass container. I placed them on a white serving dish (already owned), poured black river rock around the candles on the dish and placed small skulls and skeleton hands around the rock. I then hung skeleton garland around the light fixture above for a fun, simple and extremely cheap decoration.

Try looking at dollar store items in a different way. I could have used the skeleton garland by separating them and tying them to the front of the candles. The skeletons could have hung on a Halloween tree (this was new to me too). Take fake birds used for crafting and spray paint them black. Place them in Halloween displays on a table or in a wreath. I use a lot of pumpkins in my Halloween/Autumn decor. I use them in baskets and on trays or plates. They can also be placed on display on candle holders. Try painting them. You can paint a design or paint them all one color. Don't be limited by your budget. Use your imagination and keep the spirit of the holidays alive and well during these tight times.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weight Obsession

Why are we so obsessed with our weight? When I say we, I mostly mean me but I am not alone. I have noticed that women and even men are constantly focused on what they should weigh. When in a group of women, I find that our conversations inevitably turn into a discussion about what we weighed at our thinest or even our heaviest. I am not saying that I have never thrown this particular topic into the mix, but I am not the only one. I am ashamed to say that I remember exactly how much I weighed at my thinest and when. I was 25, weighed 124 and wore a size 4. See! I just did it again. I throw these numbers around like a man and his high school football stats. It's ridiculous.

Why do we feel compelled to share this information with others? Is it because I want others to know that I have not always been this heavy or that I have had control of my weight at some point in my life or could it be that I want someone to know that I am capable of restraint? The truth is that I was only this thin because I had broken up with my boyfriend of many years and was so upset that I couldn't eat. Believe me, this is the only time in my life that I have rejected food like that. I am not saying that I am exactly overweight right now. I am not where I want to be, but that always seems to be the case.

Maybe we can start a new trend and not discuss our weight at all. Maybe we can just happy with what we currently weigh. If we are overweight, than we can work on it in a nice easy slow fashion and not obsess over how big our butts have gotten lately (I suffer from the J.Lo syndrome). Maybe we could discuss how beautiful we are and how great we look
now. Heck, maybe we leave weight out of the discussion altogether. I would always be happy to share the stupid things that my husband has recently done as a replacement. Who is with me?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Friends of the Wilmington Parks Turkey Trot 5k Race Coming Soon!

Only TEN weeks left until Thanksgiving Day! This means that there’s only ten weeks until the 4th Annual Friends of the Wilmington Parks Turkey Trot 5K Race and Children’s events!!!

Schedule of events:

8:30a.m. - Children’s events will begin and will continue throughout the race. Sign your little one up for the Turkey Chase for children 6 and under, ¼ mile sprint, Turkey Tag and other fun games. Kids will then be taken into the warm YMCA gym to play games with adults while parents run the 5K race. All of the children’s events are free of charge!

9:00a.m. - The race will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 26, 2009 (Thanksgiving Day). Registration will begin at the Clinton County YMCA.

Close to 200 runners participated last year and we are expecting even more this year.

To register, go to and search Friends of the Wilmington Parks Turkey Trot. Register by November 16th to guarantee a t-shirt!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Train for a 5k

There are only 14 and a half weeks until Thanksgiving. That is plenty of time to train and run in a Thanksgiving Day 5k race. I plan one each year called the Friends of the Wilmington Parks Turkey Trot (Wilmington, Ohio) and we have an absolute BLAST!!! It has become a new tradition for my family to get up and work the race and head out to eat at my aunt's house.

It's the perfect opportunity to get your kids to run with you. My race has events for children and I am sure many other races do too. Yes, it can get a bit cold but you are warmed by the running in no time at all. Lot's of people come out and walk in these races as well. Why not push yourself this year and do something outside the comfort zone. Train for a 5k race and do it!! My race is listed at where there are TONS of other races. Pick one and hit the road. I promise you will not regret it.

Check out - for taining tips for beginners. Happy running!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Break out of the box

My co-workers and I have been talking about trying new things. We have decided it's time to open ourselves up to new experiences. I recently turned 36. This event really hit home. I am really hitting middle-age! I now understand why so many people go out and buy fast cars and get boob jobs. So, I have decided not to waste anymore of my precious time. I want to have fun and let my true personality shine through. Problem is that without expanding my horizons, I don't really know what that means to me. So, my friends and I are starting a group. We are creating our own "bucket lists" (see movie) and we are going to start checking items off together.

This doesn't mean you have to do everything on the other person's list. Some of them might be individual goals and some may just feel too risky - I am not sky diving PERIOD! But they might be things like go to a Broadway show or ride a motorcyle or try attending a dance class. One of my co-workers really wanted to try yoga. I had tried it once and it just didn't take. I have always liked classes where more heavy breathing and sweating is required. Yoga just seemed too slow. Three weeks ago, I tried it again anyway. I am hooked! I love it. I think it has a lot to do with our instructor. He makes class truly enjoyable, but I would never have known that I would love yoga this much! I am thrilled to have stepped out of my box. Yay me.

You may also find that things you always wanted to do or learn really aren't all they are cracked up to be. For example, I have always thought I had missed my calling as an artist. One of my dreams has always been to one day open my own art and pottery store. I would create the pottery. However, I had never thrown on a wheel and really knew nothing about it. This summer I was finally able to take that long awaited pottery class. I found the class to be very interesting and I did like making the pottery, but I no longer dream of creating my own pottery. I would have never known this had I not given it a try. I am certainly glad that I did.

Creating adventure and trying new things doesn't have to mean galavanting across the globe or climbing Mt. Everest. It can be simple things like trying a new food, reading a different type of book than what you are used to, but why not break out of our shells and go whitewater rafting, rock climbing, skiing, learn to paint, travel somewhere random or whatever YOU can imagine.

Breaking out of that "box" is just one more way to becoming positively well in my opinion. So, why not try it. It really won't hurt. Okay, it might if you are rock climbing, trying your hand as an MMA fighter or knitting (those needles can be dangerous). However, those might be the best feeling bruises and cuts you will ever earn. ;)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Get your Z's

I took a vacation last week. It was nice to be off of work, but it is so hard to get back to work after your schedule is so screwed up. In fact, I found myself doing my own special "sleep study" over the past several days. Let me share my findings.

The healthcare industy is constantly trying to reminds us why we need to get betwen 6-8 hours of sleep each night. There is always a lot of debate about how many hours is truly the most beneficial. Many studies have been done about sleep but answers are still not perfectly clear about how much is just enough. There have been several studies that show that study participants who slept between 6.5-7.5 hours lived longer than participants who slept less than 6.5 or more than 8.

Quality of sleep is also very important. During my vacation, I got around 6-8 hours each night. However, my schedule was off and so was my sleep. I didn't sleep well at all Sunday night and found myself exhausted on Monday back at work. The days that I did not get enough sleep, I was hungrier than usual and I was unable to make good decisions about what to eat. I lacked motivation, didn't exercise and didn't even drink enough liquid. I was in a bad mood and actually felt depressed. Monday night I went straight home and hit the couch. I took a little nap and was able to get up and do a few chores. I went straight to bed around 9:30 and woke up Tuesday almost as good as new. I was not as hungry and I was able to exercise. I felt 95% better. I can't say 100% because I was still a little tired from the previous nights without proper sleep and my body was a wreck from the junk I ingested while feeling so bad.

I really paid attention to how my body responded to lack of sleep and it does not like it. This morning I awoke from a great nights sleep and I can honestly say that I now feel 100% better. I don't wake up feeling incredible after 8 hours of sleep. I feel incredible after about 6.5-7. Any more than this and I often feel groggy. Studies are still not clear as to whether getting a perfect 8 hours is best for you so get what you feel your body truly requires. This means listening to your body better. Write about your sleep habits in a journal if you must, but pay more attention. This is especially important if you are attempting to lose weight or just plain feel better! Whatever you do, make sure you are getting your Z's! They are way more important than you realize. Happy snoozing!

Friday, July 31, 2009

20 NEW or IMPROVED Tips to Eating Healthy on a Budget

Eating healthy on a budget does not have to be super expensive. I realize everyone has their own budget and it may not be the same as mine. I do compare my food allowance to what the USDA believes people would need to spend to get all of the foods required according to the food guide pyramid. On the following table, they give weekly amounts that would be spent according to gender, age and the month (due to price fluctuations). I try to keep our food budget below their Thrifty Food Plan

I was trying to bake my own bread, but that didn't work out. I started gaining weight and found myself spending way too much time working at it. I still try to cook everything from as close to scratch as possible. This is actually pretty simple when you try to just have a protein, veggies and some type of carb (brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, etc). I started looking at my previous tips and I have been using those and some new tips to work on my food budget. Here are my 20 NEW and IMPROVED tips.

1. Plan your meals for the week. I have said this before, but this is one of the best tips I can give. Plan your breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinners and desserts ahead. I can't say I do this every time, but I do pretty well. I always rotate the same foods during the day every day and dinners are pretty simple.

2. Make a list and stick to it! Try not to deviate from your list unless you realize you forgot an absolute essential or you find meat for a particularly good price.

3. Shop bi-weekly. Stay out of the store as much as possible. Learn what you need to get you through for two weeks and stay away until your next trip. You may run out of staples while you are learning what you really need. If this happens, make note for next time. I kept running out of cheese, milk and eggs. I started buying more eggs and milk and decided to use less cheese.

4. Keep track of what you need prior to your shopping trip. I kept notes in the beginning of what I seemed to use the most of and then I did some math. I eat approx. 5-6 egg whites per day for breakfast. I multiplied this by 14 added a few for my husband and now I purchase around 6-7 dozen eggs per trip. Seems like a lot, but eggs are an item I can't live without! I get lots of protein from them with very little fat.

5. Know your store’s prices. Check circulars and keep a price book. I know that I can almost always find coffee cheaper at Dollar General. I keep DG's price with me to know if I am getting the best deal - sometimes it's not. My friend at work told me that every other week Kroger had sales on milk and dairy products. I started doing my shopping during that particular week, but Kroger now has it on sale all the time.

6. Coupons. Coupons are a tip that I have had to rethink. I can't use them very often because I try not to buy too many convenience foods although my husband lives for them so I do buy some. Plus, you don't find coupons for staples like eggs, milk, meat, fruits and veggies. However, they can be used on most toiletries especially if you are particular about a certain brand name. Just don't buy something you wouldn't normally buy just because you have a coupon unless you are getting it practically free. If you do, try giving it to a food pantry or homeless shelter.

7. Buy meat on sale. Buy lean meats and buy them when they are cheapest (you will know this if you keep a price book). If you are able, stock up. Even if you are on food stamps, this is a good idea. Purchase what you can in meat and freeze it if you have room.

8. Plan meals around the meat you have available and not the other way around. This can be very easy and healthy if you always have lean meats on hand. If you don't have a particularly lean meat, cut it up and use it in a casserole or another dish that is mainly veggies and a whole grain. Your meal does not have to focus solely on meat all the time which brings me to the next tip.

9. Try a vegetarian dish each week. My husband is an extremely picky eater so this tip is more difficult than I had originally hoped, but he will eat some eggplant dishes. If your husband will eat something different, try substituting meat whenever possible.

10. Stay out of the aisles! I have said this before, but AGAIN stay out of the aisles. There are very few items we need down the middle aisles. Pasta, beans, cereal, rice, tuna, oats, coffee, tea and frozen vegetables are some good examples of what you can actually use down an aisle. Other than that, get in and get out. It is way too tempting to pick up things you don’t need and that are unhealthy for you.

11. Do some prep work each week. When you get home from the grocery, do some prep work. Cut up veggies, throw some meat in the crock pot or oven and separate into portion sizes. This makes preparing food through the week MUCH easier. I do this with chicken – I cook it up, shred it and put it into baggies or containers in 3 oz servings. Through the week, I grab one out of the freezer and throw it in my cooler. Throw it in the microwave and add to a salad or brown rice. Super convenient and you don’t let your chicken go bad as quickly.

12. Carry a cooler. This is a trick of body builders and fitness/figure competitors. It’s very sensible. Plan your meals out and pack accordingly each day. If your meats, veggies, and complex carbs are already cooked and waiting in portion size containers in the fridge or freezer, it is just as easy to pack your daily meals as is it to go out and buy something. Plus, it keeps your metabolism going all day and you never get so hungry that you break down and grab a candy bar out of the vending machine.

13. Don't buy convenience foods. Easier said than done...I have mentioned that my husband is a picky eater. I often have to buy him certain foods and buy myself others. He is not as interested in making sure he eats healthy. This is when generic foods and coupons come in handy. How can I get away with this and maintain a budget? I'll explain at the bottom.

14. Do not go to the store with an empty stomach! I am sure you have heard that a million times, but it is so true. Everything just looks so good when you are hungry!! Plus, I get irritable when I am hungry and this can cause me to rush through a store and not worry about my budget as much.

15. Share with a friend. If you buy something in bulk, how about splitting it with a friend or family member? I have brought large quantities of food home and realized I would never be able to eat it before it went bad. Now, my mother and I plan on buying the large quantity items that we both eat and splitting the cost. Form your own little co-op with neighbors. You might make some new friends.

16. EAT LESS! This has always been my issue. I just like to eat big portions, but this is bad for your health and bad for your budget. Plan out your meals so that there is JUST enough for you to all eat one serving at a time and maybe enough to have for lunch the next day. I have found that I waste a lot less food this way and eat smaller portions.

17. Freeze half portions. I like good grainy whole wheat bread. My husband does not. So, I take half of my loaf and freeze it. I use the other half one week and I extend the life of the other half. If you don’t like bread from the freezer, maybe you are thawing it incorrectly. Take it out and let it thaw on it’s own. Do not try to microwave it. It will make it hard. You just have to think ahead when you run out of the other loaf.

18. Do not waste. I used to throw away leftovers every single week. I was careless with my money and the fact that I am incredibly fortunate to have access to lots of food. Now, I look in my fridge and determine what I have that needs to be used and I USE it! Americans throw away entirely too much food. If you need help with this, check out the Use-It-Up Cookbook by Lois Willand at the library. This book has great suggestions for using up any food. There are other books that go by the same name - they are not the same!

19. Barter. We don't hear this word very much anymore, but why not barter your services with someone who has a garden. I have been known to clean out someone's garden (who couldn't do it on their own) in exchange for fresh vegetables. Maybe you have a friend or family member who has a garden full of surplus veggies who could use your help. Ask!

20. Farmer's Market. Go to the Farmer's Market whenever possible. You are getting the best possible produce grown locally. It is less expensive because it has traveled a shorter distance and you are supporting your local economy.

Note**I said I would explain how I make my husband's and my eating preferences work for our budget. I generally eat the same foods over and over every day. For a two week period, I need - 1 loaf of high fiber bread, oats, eggs, fruit, baby spinach and other salad, vegetables, chicken, tuna or whatever lean meat was on sale, cottage cheese, brown rice, and sometimes yogurt. It seems like a lot, but oats last awhile and I know how much I need of everything else so they don't go to waste. I just buy my husband a few of his favorite foods as cheaply as possible. It can be done. Thankfully, my child is happy with whatever either of us eat and we all eat the same things for dinner.

I hope this helps you with your grocery budget. It is a monthly struggle, but I am feeling good about it and I hope you will too. Happy shopping!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Frugality of Generosity

Many of my posts are dedicated to finding ways to save money. One of the best reasons to save money is to be able to give more away!!

I realize I feel differently about philanthropy than most people. My profession is fundraising. I do this for a small private Quaker college (Wilmington College, Wilmington, Ohio). However, I am not just talking about Wilmington College. I am talking about generosity in general.

I have read tons of books about finance or becoming successful over the years and I have yet to find a single one that does not tell you to give some of your money away. The thought is that when you give money away more comes back to you in a different way. It may not be exactly what you expect, but I believe this to be true. The more generous (and purposeful) I have become with my money, the more money I seem to have and the more meaningful my life has become.

My hometown of Wilmington, Ohio has been in the news a lot over the past year. We lost one of our largest employers (DHL). This eliminated 8 thousand jobs from our community. Times are tough here. My husband lost his job before the announcement of DHL was all over the news. He found his new job before too many people flooded the job market and before our unemployment ran out. We make a lot less now, but we have jobs and a new respect for money. We no longer argue over finances. We work together. There are too many people who will suffer over the next year or two. My family is extremely blessed to still have a home, transportation and food on the table. If you also are one who is fortunate enough to still be able to provide for your family, count yourself lucky.

During these tough economic times, there are many organizations who are trying to help everyone without a job or a home. My husband and I have learned not only to save more money, but also to give more away. This does not ever mean giving to strangers on the street. Give your money away purposefully. If you want to help the homeless or the hungry, give to a homeless shelter or food pantry. They will happily give you a receipt for tax purposes and you can feel confident that your money is being stewarded properly.

If you do not have much money to give, give of your time and resources. Start a clothing, bedding or food drive. Or help a friend or family member in need. Do they need babysitting during hours you are at home? Maybe they have a child with a birthday coming up and you have clothing or toys in their size - give them to the parents to give as gifts. There are many ways to help out.

And I would not be responsible if I didn't mention higher education. I know it probably doesn't sound as needy as a homeless shelter, but it is definitely worthy of support. Think about a few things for me. Manufacturing jobs will likely be few and far between in the near future. What will those people do for a living? Colleges will help re-educate these people to join the workforce in a different way. Higher education will keep young people AND some of the unemployed out of the job market for awhile giving the economy time to recover. Also, many of our students had parents that may have been laid off or lost a portion of their income. These kids are finding it increasingly difficult to find financial aid. Banks aren't lending money to these students and the government has been forced to take some financial support away from higher ed. We want these young people to have an education and we want them to stay out of the workforce for a few years.

When you make gifts to these organizations, it does not have to be a lot.

It matters who you give to and when, but not necessarily how much. Please keep this in mind when you go to write out a $10 or $25 check to an organization. That money helps a lot when lots of people give. The more generous you are and think of others, the more it WILL come back to you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


It's been too long since my last post. That's why this post will be dedicated to consistency. I know that I am always trying to take on too many things. I try not to ever let these things interfere with my work life, but it sure does prevent me from reaching some of my personal goals.

I mentally beat myself up for being inconsistent, but what I really need to do is get to the root of the problem. It probably has to do with my constantly taking on too many projects. I used to never say no to community members and friends that had a project they needed help with. I would add these projects to the long list of projects I had going on for myself. I like to be involved and help others. But, there is a price that comes with constantly giving of all of your free time. There isn't any way to truly give a project your full attention, your family suffers because your constantly busy and it's difficult to give them your full attention and you never have a moment to take care of yourself.

One of my personal goals over the past few months has been to get my priorities straight and to learn to do things in moderation. I have gotten better about this. However, I am still trying to fit too many things into an already tight schedule. This is something that I am continually trying to work on.

I doubt I am alone. There are others out there that are over doing it and not able to give things their full attention all of the time. What can be cut out? I started cutting out some of my community projects. I decided to do the projects that I am able to give my full time and attention. I have also finished taking classes now. This is a huge blessing. I still have to finish my master's, but I no longer have to attend class. I did take a pottery class this summer just for me. This only made my life more rushed and difficult. I was unable to fully enjoy the class even though it was something I had always wanted to learn. The point is that it still added too much to my busy life.

There will be times when you have to put one thing aside to make up for time spent on something else. Know what your priorities are and stick with them. Right now, my priorities are spending time with and assisting my different family members and thinking of ways to raise money for Wilmington College and completing my degree this summer. I am also trying to get enough exercise in and eat properly. So, please forgive me and forgive yourself if you are not always consistent. I am doing my best and you should too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Food Budget

I am still working on my grocery bill. Every other week I go to the grocery and attempt to do better than the last time I went. So far, this has worked. This is how it has broken down so far:

First trip: Spent $150 for two week period. Went back to store to pick up milk, eggs, bread, cheese and a couple other items the second week. Ended up spending an extra $30. Total $180 for two week period.

Second trip: Spent $140 for two week period. Went back to store for a few other items I had forgotten or ran out of. Spent around $20 restocking. Total $160 for two week period.

Third trip: Spent $95 for two week period. Husband went to the store yesterday to stock up on milk and he bought chips, ice cream, salsa, dry milk and a few other items spending another $35. Total $135 for two week period so far.

My trips are getting better each time. I am still running out of items here and there. I did not include the nights we eat out each week. We have been doing this about once a week. We do this as part of our “fun” budget. This has gone down a LOT too. I will start tracking that better next. However, we are getting much better about eating at home and we are making a grocery list and sticking to it for the most part.

I wanted to compare how we are doing to what the USDA recommends for a weekly grocery allowance for families and individuals on food stamps. I find this interesting. I am not making any political statement about people on food stamps or anything. I am just curious as to how I compare.

Here is what they allow for families and individuals using food stamps per week based on my family of two adults and one six year old. This is based on food prices in May, 2009:

Thrifty Plan - $102
Low-cost Plan - 132.10
Moderate Plan - $158.90
Liberal Plan - $163.90

These costs are per week? Wow. I was hoping to get my food budget down to around $75 per week, but even on their Thrifty Plan they have a $102 budget. I am sure they are accounting for higher food costs in certain areas. Check out their recommendations and see how you are doing in comparison -

Anyway, I am going to keep at the grocery bill. I just need to make sure I am also getting plenty of fruits and vegetables in our diet. I am not always doing great in that area, but I am working on it. I will keep you posted.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Decluttering a Child's Room

My child's room has been overflowing with junk for some time now. Quite a bit of it has come from other people, but a lot of it has come from us too. I let her buy a toy here and there when we are at yard sales or at the flea market. I especially don't mind when she finds things that can be used to be creative - markers, crayons, craft supplies, etc. However, this has all become too much! We now have hundreds of crayons! HUNDREDS! Markers and paper lay strewn all over the floor. Her art easel had been overrun by paper and paints. It's insane!

She generally likes to play in her room, but lately that has become impossible. I had asked her to clean her room, but where is she supposed to put everything? You could see her become overwhelmed the second she walked in her room. Her version of cleaning it was throwing everything in her closet and calling it a day. Who can blame her?

I finally found the solution - I think.

Yesterday morning, I took almost everything out of her room. I boxed it all up and took it to our basement storage. I left only some craft supplies, all of her books, puzzles and clothes and a few of her favorite toys. The rest will be sorted through over the next couple of weeks. I will only replace the things that she genuinely misses. The rest will be divied up and sold or given away.

Strangely, I had begun to feel kind of sorry for her when I would see all the junk she has. Why? Because she can't really play with it all and she can't spend creative time in her room. It was just too much and was just another sign of how overconsumption can truly take over your home and your life.

Here is what I did:
1. I cleared everything out. I threw away everything that could not be reused. I then boxed everything else up and took it to storage. This will be sorted throughout the week and labeled for yard sale or given away.
2. We designated certain areas for her room. She does crafts at her desk and she will do homework there this year as well. Her bed is for sleeping. She now has a bean bag next to her bookshelf for reading.
3. The closet and dresser are for clothes only.
4. We have a hanging storage thingy for toys and some are under her bed. She has a dollhouse, art easel and a few random stuffed animals. That's it.

I know I feel better and last night she disappeared into her room for hours. She was enjoying all of her new found space.

P.S. She hasn't complained once about all of the toys leaving her room.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Visualization Board

I mentioned my visualization board in my last post and you may have been wondering what in the world I was talking about.

My visualization board is where I put the things that I want where I can see them and visualize them. I have this year’s savings goal posted on the board. I also have photos of how I want my backyard space to look or pictures of my dream house, etc. Some people call it the law of attraction. Kind of like if you think it, it will come. My belief is that if you think about it, you will open yourself up to ways to reach your goals.

Example: I have a friend/former co-worker who visualized her dream job. She kept imagining what this would look like and wrote it down. She is now my former co-worker because she is working at her dream job. She would talk about her dream job and one day she mentioned it to another co-worker. This person reminded her that she had an acquaintance that worked where she wanted to work and so she called her up and they were looking for someone. Had she not spoken of her goal she might not be there now.

This same person wanted to buy a campsite at a particular campground. She also wanted the money to purchase the land so she could permanently place her camper on it. She wrote her goals down and visualized this happening. Within a few months, her husband came home with an older camper that he fixed up and sold. The land that was once not available suddenly became available and she was able to purchase the land with the money from the camper sale.
This kind of thing happens to me all of the time. Four years ago, I was visualizing myself in a different job, being accepted into graduate school and being able to buy a new home. In the same week, our offer on our home was accepted and I was offered my current position. The same day that I was offered my new position I said to a coworker, “Now all I need is to be accepted into grad school.” I got home that day and the acceptance letter was waiting for me in the mail. PS – my current job also paid me quite a bit more than what I used to make which helped my house payment become super affordable.

None of these goals would have come true if I had not put forth some effort. I had to apply for my current position. I also had to work on getting a home loan and applying for graduate school. These things did not just appear out of thin air. When you write your goals down and imagine them coming true, you will find ways to make it happen. It’s not magic.

Create your own visualization board. It can be just a piece of your wall where you tape things up or use your refrigerator. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Cut out photos of things you are wishing for or write down your goals and place them where you can see them every day. Then think about your goals and let yourself be open to finding ways to achieve them. You will find yourself reaching your goals in no time.

Setting Goals

When was the last time you put your goals down on a piece of paper? I put mine down fairly regularly. I don’t always achieve my goals, but they are usually the ones that aren’t in line with the rest of my goals. When I find goals that don’t fit, I take them off or adjust them.

I have been working diligently on my financial goals for the past year. My first goal is to save a certain amount of money by October. My husband and I are right on track to do this. Our next financial goal is to pay off all credit cards and other small bills by next year. We are working on paying off everything except the mortgage and my student loan. Then my ultimate goal is to begin saving/investing half of our income every year within the next two-three years. This will be feasible when most of our bills are paid off.

Nowhere on my list do I ever mention attempting to make more money to reach my goals. Would I like more money? Sure, but I don’t want the hassle that goes along with making more money either. Therefore, I plan my goals around what I make currently. If I make more money, than I will start using the surplus to pay more bills. I don’t want to count on it though.
The point here is that writing my goals down has helped me achieve them. I look at them regularly and we even have the first goal posted on a visualization board (for another post) in our bedroom. My husband and I discuss our goals on a regular basis to make sure we are still on the same page. We also discuss any purchases that we make that are over a certain amount and do not help us reach our goal. On our own, we consider whether smaller purchases are really worth it. So far, this is working out well and has even brought us closer together. It has taught us to communicate more often and money is no longer a topic that brings anxiety. The topic actually brings us joy and excitement now.

Get out a pen and paper or your computer. Sit down with your significant other and discuss each of your goals financial or otherwise. My husband and I found that most of our goals were the same, but some were different. That’s okay. My goals were mostly creative goals like learning to paint and learn to do pottery (I have since been learning to paint with acrylics and I am enrolled in a pottery class). If you are married, you should have quite a few common goals to reach together. You will need to compromise if they are not exactly the same. Set reasonable and attainable goals especially for now. If it is a money goal, start with cutting back on something or saving a certain amount per month. It doesn’t have to be lofty. You could also try reading a financial book like “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. We did and that is what made us get gazelle intense about all of this. Check it out.

Just get your goals where you can see them and think about them often. The more they are on your mind, the more likely you are to start doing things that are in line with reaching these goals. Good luck!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Art of Negotiation

I am sitting here reading The Complete Tightwad Gazette when I come across the section about negotiating. Amy Dacyczyn first talks about how Americans are afraid to negotiate which I have found to be true. Why is that? Are we afraid that the vendor will think we don't really have the money in the first place? In my opinion, not negotiating a better deal makes me feel like I appear reckless with money. I also think I look like I have sucker written across my forehead. I am not saying that I always negotiate, but I certainly try whenever applicable. I don't negotiate when the deal is already really reasonable. For example, I don't negotiate at a yard sale for something that is very reasonably priced.

My mother and I have been attempting to teach my child how to negotiate her own deals. She is really good at it, but she also has the cuteness factor on her side. She has been known to negotiate a $3 item down to 50 cents. She does this mostly at yard sales and flea markets for practice. I am hoping this will help her look for better deals in the future. Whenever I want to buy something, I wait and look for the best possible deal before going ahead with purchase.

Everyone should try negotiating a better deal. Do not pay full price when it is not necessary. It would be smart to stay out of retailers as much as possible because you are not likely to get a better deal at major retailers. However, it is not impossible especially when something is slightly damaged. Always ask for a better price on a damaged item!!!

Anyway, I have read Amy Dacyczyn's tips to negotiation. I thought I would share them with you who have never read or heard of the Tightwad Gazette series. I am going to paraphrase a lot here, but the ideas will remain the same.

1. Everything is negotiable - even in retail stores. This is not always true for big retail chains. Look for the owner or manager whenever possible and ask if they will take less. Sales people will not likely have the power to negotiate. In a small store, be discrete. They may not want other shoppers to know they will take less.

2. Negotiating is a human transaction as well as a financial one. Establish a relationship before haggling. You will be able to assess the person's character and motivation before making an offer.

3. Gently guide the discussion to the item at hand. Do not jump into the ask. This reminds me a lot of fundraising, but you need to work your way into the ask. Do not appear overly positive or negative. If you disparage the item, you may hurt your chances of getting a better deal. Appear neutral.

4. Don't rush to discuss prices. Try not to be the first to offer up a price. Let the owner throw out the first number.

5. Once they offer a price, do not counter immediately. This shows the person you were listening to them and is more respectful than countering right away. Take a moment to consider it. Then make your offer - they will likely be more receptive.

6. Before making your counter offer, give your reasons for offering less. They will likely ignore your reasons if you give the price first. They have to listen if you do it before countering.

7. If they still disagree, offer to settle somewhere in the middle. Generally this works. If not, consider walking away from the item. If you aren't willing to pay the middle price, you may not want it badly enough and probably don't need it anyway. Often when you begin to walk away, they will call you back and let you have the item for the lower price. If not, it wasn't meant to be anyway.

Happy Haggling!!

Source: Dacyczyn Amy. The Complete Tightwad Gazette II: Promting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle. New York: Random House, 1998.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Redecorating Used Furniture

I hate buying new furniture. Often, new furniture is not made well unless you spend a terrible fortune. The one time I can say I bought something new and it was worth the money is my entertainment armoire. It was originally around $3000. I bought if for just under $800. It is a good solid piece of furniture and it adds to my home. Otherwise, the new stuff has started to fall apart, looks worn or is just plain boring. Most of all, I hate buying something new because I am just adding one more thing to a landfill eventually. I hate it. I prefer to buy used furniture. I have since I was in college. It's fun, practical and better for the environment.

I prefer to find old furniture at yard sales, thrift stores and estate sales. It's one of my favorite past-times. I have also been able to fill my home with some interesting secondhand pieces. Therefore, I am always on the look out for great websites that tell you how to redo a piece for very little money. I am normally disappointed because I have only been able to find shabby chic style websites. Some have great ideas, but they don't normally fit my style (whatever that is). I am very eclectic. I prefer darker woods mixed with some brighter accents. I paint (not terribly well, but I paint) acrylic abstracts on canvas that I have hung around my home. These make my house a little more colorful. Shabby Chic just doesn't cut it.

Recently, I wrote about This site has a Decor It Yourself section. The ideas listed here are a little more contemporary. They are fun and super cheap. I find that their ideas are best for the under 30 crowd, but anyone can find some inspiration here. From Threadbanger I learned about Now we are talking. I have spent my entire morning gushing over some of the cool makeovers listed on this site. Who would have thought to use contact paper to decorate the outside of a bureau? I certainly wouldn't have, but I am now.

One of my students found me a piano bench and two end tables. I have struggled to come up with something new for these tables. I have been really bad about painting everything black. These website encourage using some color. I think that I can find a really cool color to use. When I get them done, I will post them. The point here is to rethink used furniture. Think outside the box and buy a piece you wouldn't normally grab. You don't have to paint it white or black and do nothing else to it. There are lots of ways to transform a really inexpensive piece. Try to have a little fun with it and redecorate your home for pennies on the dollar!! Good luck.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sewing - Is it making a comeback?

Is sewing going to be cool again? I hope so. I am not the best seamstress, but sewing is an art form that I had feared was a lost art until yesterday! I found the coolest website. It is geared toward the 20 something group, but there are lots of great ideas for the rest of us. The website is It’s really hip and fresh. It has interesting and creative ideas like how to make a $10 wedding dress out of white t-shirts. Tons of the videos are about how to upcycle materials. They even make their own body form out of packing tape, scrap fabric, a stick and a Christmas tree stand. Very cool.

First of all, I am extremely excited about how popular upcycling has become. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s when you take something used and turn it into something new. Recycling means taking something used and turning it back into the same thing. Upcycling takes some creativity. On Threadbanger, a mother takes a man’s sweater and turns it into a capelet for her daughter. Other contributors turn towels into bath rugs or make aprons from old jeans. There are a lot of interesting ideas that are not too difficult. I am seriously thinking this might be how I make Christmas work this year. No one in my family has a lot of money to spend and we like homemade gifts more than purchased gifts anyway. I have a sewing machine just sitting in my craft room begging to be used. Poor thing. I guess I will have to pay it more attention from now on.

Check out Threadbanger and look for YouTube videos that showcase homemade items. Learn to sew again and turn some of your trash into something someone else might treasure. It will save you money and you will possibly learn a new skill you can pass on. Have fun!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tight Pants Diet!

I have a brand new diet strategy. This is one of the cheapest there is - wear tight pants. Now I am not talking about trying to look like your from an 80's rock video. I am just talking about wearing the pants that almost feel slightly uncomfortable or fit just right. Do not wear baggy clothes when you know you are going to be around food.

Think back to the last special occasion you attended - wedding, birthday party, holiday party, etc, etc. You were wearing a nice pair of slacks or fitted dress. Your clothes fit just tight enough that if you eat one more piece of cake, another roll or one last cocktail your clothes are going to start pinching a little. Were you less likely to eat that other roll? I am not saying that I haven't chanced it. How else would I know that my clothes were going to pinch?

Why not use this to your advantage? Whenever I attend holiday events where my pants are nice and comfy, I find myself eating entirely too much. There are no consequences that are immediately recognizable. When I wear clothes that fit better, I don't overindulge (as much).

So, stop trying to wear sweatpants or elastic waist pants to those functions where you will have ample opportunity to overeat. You know that's why you wear them in the first place. Wear the pants that look great and enjoy just a little food. It won't hurt you.

Oh and have a little snack beforehand. You won' t be ravenous when you get there. Enjoy!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson - I can't help myself

I had not planned on writing about Michael Jackson, but I can't seem to help it. Just yesterday, I was listening to P.Y.T. and Thriller on my MP3. I hadn't felt like listening to him in a long time, but yesterday afternoon it took me back to my youth. Strangely enough, I was reminiscing before I knew of his passing.

I was thinking about how great he was when I was young. His cool red leather jacket with the zippers. How he wore one white glove with confidence as he would slide across the stage doing the moonwalk. Everyone back then tried to imitate him and his outfits. It was definitely a strange time in fashion, but it was fun. I had my own parachute pants and did the moonwalk every chance I got. I was in elementary school at that time. I had two friends who even looked a little like MJ and dressed like him to boot. My friend Jen and I would blare his music on our boomboxes and tried our best to replicated his moves. We thought he was beautiful and his music was fantastic. I don't want to think about him the way he was in the end when he became weird and his relationship with children was under question. He was such a huge part of my childhood. I am going to remember him exactly the way he was in 1983 and 1984. Those were some good times.

R.I.P. Michael Jackson.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Keep a Journal

Journaling can be one of the most effective ways to do almost anything. I love it and that is why I write to you each week. It helps me keep myself in balance. It may not always work, but it sure helps.

Why should you journal?

Keeping records of what you eat daily can help you lose weight. Tracking what you are spending can help you save money. Writing down what you are thankful for every day can help you be more appreciative. It can also help you reduce stress and find areas of your life where you are wasting time. Keep records of your grocery trips as well. There are too many reasons here to list.

I hear so many people say that eating healthy is expensive. It doesn't have to be. Like myself, you are probably eating too much and still spending money on unneccessary items. How will you know for sure unless you are keeping track? You don't have to count all of your calories or fat grams to journal. Just write down what you have been eating and how much you are eating. If you are not losing weight after 1 week, review your diet. Eliminate the extra foods you consumed and start week 2.

Measuring your food and keeping track CAN help you figure out how much. Sometimes we think we are eating less than what we really are. Also record how you are feeling when you eat. Are you feeling hungry at that time or are you just eating because it's meal time? Are you anxious, nervous, upset, tired, frustrated, happy, etc? I know that I eat more when I am stressed, anxious and bored. I have been doing that a lot lately. I have also put on weight. I am now going back to my journaling to keep track of what I am eating for a little while. I will also record how much exercise and sleep I am getting. It truly helps to know what you are doing otherwise, how can you change?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Learning to Fight the Urge to Consume

One of my goals to help simplify my life is to learn to buy less stuff. I want to quit buying things that I don't need. I spend less money, I create less waste, I spend less time shopping and most importantly, I am not sucking the world's resources dry.

This can be amazingly difficult!

I have kept myself from going into stores unless it is grocery day. Then, I stick to two (maybe three) stores. I do this because the best deals are found at Aldi's and I go to Kroger for everything else. I try to stay out of Walmart as much as possible. I had been doing really well with this until yesterday. My husband and I stopped in Walmart during lunch. He had been wanting to buy a new tent and they had one on sale that he was interested in. We ended up leaving with a tent, a tennis racket, a new sleeping bag, car seat covers for my car and mascara.

We were completely overwhelmed by a need to buy, buy, buy! I had not felt like that in awhile. It was like a drug coursing through my veins!! I couldn't believe how much I wanted to buy things and thought I needed stuff. I also had the immediate feeling of guilt afterwards. I walked out of Walmart with my head hung in shame.

I realize now that working towards simplicity and fighting materialism is going to take time. I still need to take baby steps to get to a slower paced lifestyle. I am going to have setbacks, but I can't let them get me down.

There are many reasons that I want to change my life and to combat materialism.

What we do here in the U.S. affects the rest of the world whether we know it or not. We can not go on living selfishly and expect that there are no consequences. There are consequences even if they are not felt by you and me. We need to be more thoughtful, purposeful, and considerate when we make purchases. We also need to realize how lucky we are every day when we wake up under a roof most likely with air conditioning, ample amounts of food, good clothing, nice cars and plenty of extras.

I am currently reading "Tis a Gift to be Simple: Embracing the Freedom of Living with Less" by Sorenson and Sorenson. One specific line in the book states, "We must voluntarily, one by one, learn ways to live simply so that others may simply live." Reading this was powerful. I have to be conscious when I bring things into my home that are unnecessary to my survival and happiness. The more simply I live, the more money I can save. The more money that I have saved, the more likely I am to be able to live more generously.

We cannot continue to be a drain on the world's resources. If each family, "one by one" becomes more thoughtful of how they live and spend, we will begin to see a change.

Next time you find yourself at the front door of a store where you know you will be tempted to spend needlessly, just turn around and RUN.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Body Image Breakthrough!

I wore shorts this weekend - all weekend - in public. For those of you who know me, this is shocking!

I have covered up my legs since around my third or fourth year of college. I started gaining a little weight. I got pretty heavy in my early twenties and started completely covering everything. I lost the weight within a year, but never got over my body image issues. When I gained weight, my legs became really thick. I hated it. I still have issues with my legs. However, the past couple of years I have learned so much about my body. I can do a lot with the legs that I have. A lot! My legs are very strong and they can carry me a long way. I am proud of what they can do even if they do not compare (aesthetically) to a supermodel or one of my college kids (duh).

I began realizing lately that your body image is relative to where you are in your life. When I was a teenager, I was heavier than many of my friends. I am not saying I was heavy, just heavier. Sadly, some of my friends suffered from eating disorders and I was comparing myself to an image that was neither healthy nor ideal.

I continued comparing myself to my thinner friends through my early thirties. It has only been the past couple of years that I have begun to get over this mentality. Very sad. I also realized that many of my friends have gained a little weight and look healthier than ever before. I don't look so big compared to them anymore. It's time to get over it!

I have also realized the past couple of years just how much my self image impacts my daughter's self image. It really struck me this weekend when we were out at a picnic at my husband's work. I had taken two of my daughter's friends with us and I was in line for the restroom with one of them. Another woman said she had seen me come in with three girls and that one of them was shaped exactly like me. Of course she meant my daughter who has my frame. It is surprising that an actual lightbulb did not appear above my head and flash brightly. Here I had been loathing my body over the years and my daughter looks exactly like me. Does this mean I loathe her little body also? She is gorgeous. She has a very strong body with an athletic build. I love her and want her to be happy and secure. I was not doing her any justice by being concerned about my own flaws. I need to embrace them and love myself for the way that I am so I can be a good role model for her self-esteem.

What also occurred to me at that moment was that I was not feeding our bodies the way they need to be fed to be healthier and stronger. Over the past few months, I have not been very diligent about eating great. I have been trying to cut back on our grocery bill and had inadvertenly started overloading us with carbs. This weekend I was very conscious about what I purchased. I still focused on buying less pre-packaged and overly processed food. I also loaded up more on fruits and veggies. My uncle also brought me some veggies from his garden and asked if I would tend for his garden in exchange for all the fresh vegetables I could handle while he is away on business. That will certainly help me decrease my grocery bill while eating MUCH healthier.

I am so glad I have had this realization before I do any damage to my child's self-image. I hope to keep this in check by continuing with healthier behaviors and focusing on all of my good qualities. I need to remember to always be thankful for all of the things for which I have been blessed. I hope this gives you a chance to think about how you are projecting yourself to the world and especially to your loved ones.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Frugal Flavored Coffee

I love my coffee in the morning. I love it! I also like my coffee to have a little flavor, but flavored creamers are expensive! I have finally learned to enjoy generic coffee. It took some time, but I did it. Then, I had to get rid of my expensive creamer. I switched to non-fat dry milk. I thought I was destined to drink simple coffee in the morning when I decided to throw a little cinammon in my coffee the other day. Wow! I have been to restaurants that do this, but I hadn't thought of doing it at home. So I thought maybe some vanilla would be nice. YEP! It is great. I now have my own frugal coffee creamer. Plus, non-fat dry milk is a lot better for you. It has more protein and less artificial junk.

Did you know that the plain powdered creamers have corn syrup solids, partially hydrogenated soybean oils, sugar, sodium caseinate (a milk derivative), dipotassium, phosphate, salt, artificial flavor and color and a few other things I can't understand? My husband's liquid creamer has pretty much the same stuff, but with a few added bonuses. Yikes.

Do you know what my non-fat dry milk creamer has in it? Nonfat dry milk, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D3. Now that I have added a little cinammon, it's even better.

I will be reviewing he rest of my favorite rituals as well. I will be looking for more ways to cut back and be healthier in the process. Believe me, it's not such a bad thing!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What I have learned from my friends

I am blessed with a lot of great friends. Each one brings something completely different to our relationship. Through my mid-twenties, I was only friends with people my own age and that had my interests. They generally looked pretty similar and liked a lot of the same things. Although, each one of them were special in their own way. Now that I am in my mid-thirties, I find my friends to be of all ages and interests. I call many of the college kids my good friends and I have friends who are twice my age and all ages in between. It's wonderful.

Each one of the people that bless my life now bring something different to our relationship and each has taught me a little bit about myself. I sat down the other day and really began thinking about how some of these people have taught me something different. I can't list all of them or all of the wonderful things my friends have taught me. I want to give you just a sample of things I have learned from my friends that are a little older than me. I hope this will help you appreciate the people in your life more fully.

Some of my older friends have taught me to value my marriage and family more. I have learned to appreciate how precious my time is. I don't have much time with my little one and it certainly doesn't need to be spent on the phone or in front of a televsion set. I am learning to spend my free time in ways that are more productive or more enjoyable. I try to find ways to always incorporate my little one so I don't miss valuable time with her.

I have learned from one friend to look for joy in everything. It might not always work, but the quest makes things easier.

I have learned not to take myself so seriously. I never have outwardly. I have always been one to laugh out loud every chance that I get, but I still worried about what other's thought. Not anymore. When I was younger, I was always concerned about what I wore, what I drove, what purse I carried, how my hair was done because my friends were concerned about this. I have learned to be who I am and be true to myself.

I have learned that it is NEVER too late to change your health. I have struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. I worried that I was destined to be carry around an extra 10-20 pounds for the rest of my life. Some of my friends that are over 50 started exercising hardcore their late 40's or early 50's. A couple of them completely changed their health for the better and have lost weight and kept it off. One has even lost around 90 pounds and has turned into a completely new man. It is not too late for me to have complete control over this extra weight.

I have learned that is really okay to find new hobbies and to be creative and artistic when you are a mother. It is so easy to think you cannot spend free time doing anything but mommy duties. It's not true and you can be a better parent by being true to your creative side. Find ways to include your child/ren in your hobbies. I like to paint with acrylics. My child now has her own paint sets and plenty of things to paint on. She even has her own table and art equipment. We have a great time in our art room together.

I have learned much more than this from these friends. The purpose of this blog is for you to look around at the people you are spending your time with. What are you learning from them? Are you finding yourself surrounded by people who don't bring anything new to your life? Try broadening your circle of friends. Are you enjoying the time spent with these people? Your time in too valuable and precious to waste. Give it some thought.